Why are our clothes so important?
When did fashion become so culturally ingrained?
Who really cares?
I know it seems apathetic, but the world is changing – our global values are changing – and it’s time to stop and re-evaluate. It’s time to question everything because asking the big questions is the starting point for us all to become more conscious of our production, selling, and purchasing actions and the impact we’re having on real, human and animal lives and the future of our earth.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing lately. Wbu?
After really questioning the personal value of my clothes during Fashion Revolution Week this year, I decided that something needed to change.
I’ve always been thoughtful about my purchases and this has undoubtedly increased as time has progressed. However, I’ve only just totally accepted that I’ve been trapped in a purchasing prison, even as a ‘conscious consumer’.
While I’ve introduced only ethical and sustainable items into my wardrobe since the inception of MFARAI in 2017 (and in a ‘slow’ manner), I haven’t been immune to the pressure of staying on trend. Buying things made me feel as if I was taking care of myself and as if I was a hero for supporting small labels. But now, I call bullsh*t.
You don’t need to buy new clothes every week, month, or quarter to have style.
(I was somewhere in between month and quarter).
You don’t need to buy new clothes to show that you’re taking care of yourself.
(Exercise, nutrition, quality sleep, stress management, and small self-care rituals do just fine).
You don’t need to buy new clothes to show that you support a designer or maker, or to make a difference in their lives.
(It helps, a lot – especially in the current fast fashion climate – but their lives do not rest on your shoulders).
I fed myself these mantras for a couple of days. Then, on the 24th of April 2019, I decided that I would not buy any clothes for a whole year. The weight lifted.
A No-Spend Year
I stole the idea for a no-spend year from fellow ethical fashion blogger, Madhur Dutta.
This year, I hope to achieve all that he did: to reconnect with and build a deeper understanding of my clothes. My intent is also to avoid the unnecessary waste that comes with welcoming items that I don’t really need, as well as taking back control over the items in my life.
I know for sure that the ethically made items that I bought in support of brands I admire will get a lot of extra love this year. In fact, when I announced the no-spend on Instagram, one of the first people to get in touch was the founder and director of Theo the Label, Esther Kirwan. I was shocked and delighted that a brand would be in support of my no spend! Although, it was a brand that already takes up a decent chunk of my wardrobe!
Theo the Label
I loved, and continue to love, that Theo is so open about their practices and that they value human rights, empowerment, and social, cultural, and environmental sustainability, not just in the words they speak but in the fabric they choose and in their manufacturing practices.
There is a very clear respect for their makers in all that they do. Every garment I’ve bought from Theo came with a ‘meet the maker’ tag, signed by the person who made my item. There’s also plenty of extra info about each maker available on theothelabel.com as well, should I want to learn more.
Theo the Label works with a range of natural fibres, with the pieces I own ranging from deadstock linen/viscose blend culottes and linen/cotton blend shorts to a bamboo top and cotton jumper. Many Theo garments are also made from organic cotton (love!).
In all that Esther does, there is a raw and unfiltered commitment to sustainability. On the Theo the Label website, Esther says,
“Theo clothing is designed to be loved and to be worn to death so that it doesn’t end up ‘out of fashion’ and in landfill after 2 wears. It’s all natural so those pesky microfibre thingys don’t end up in the ocean with the rest of the world’s plastic. I also have an overflowing basket of paper off-cuts in the studio because I desperately don’t want to throw them in the recycling without giving them a second chance.
There are a million more things I could be doing better but I’m happy to have started something that is positive and relatable.”
I think, alongside amazing practices, that’s what I’m drawn to most about this brand. Esther’s not afraid to acknowledge that there will always be room to improve. Not to mention, she makes ethical fashion and business just so relatable (take note, other labels!).
An Ethical Fashion Journey
Since buying my first Theo pieces, my ethical clothing path has come further than I could ever imagine.
By this stage, I thought I would’ve had the most perfect ‘capsule wardrobe’ consisting of the most socially, culturally, and environmentally sustainable pieces that exist. I’m proud to say that’s just not the case.
While my Theo the Label pieces come pretty close to that vision, I’ve also learned to cherish the pieces that aren’t as perfect because they deserve just as much love. That’s true sustainability.
Today, my wardrobe is an amalgamation of joy; a fusion of older, ‘imperfect’ items, and beautiful, sustainably made pieces like those from Theo. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.